Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Ocean Crossing Incident

The 26 eclectic-genre short stories for my #AtoZChallenge are excerpts from travelogue notes by
novel character Gahlen, who first appeared in SHARDS OF MEMORY – Oral History in a Heartbeat.

Each A-to-Z daily post is a complete, stand-alone tale.

By Illustrated London News - Copied and digitised from an image appearing in the Illustrated London News, April 13, 1844, p, 229., Public Domain,

Ocean Crossing Incident
Genre: Shipboard Mystery
(383 words)

The woman dragged her shipping trunk through a tangle of impatient emigrants, a sunbonnet concealing her anxiety. She inched toward the boarding ramp as others were checked through. Two persons near her age claimed their place in line. The younger one, Sissy, introduced herself and her sister Mattie. Sissy displayed her boarding pass. The bonneted woman noticed their bunks adjoined and said her name was Rene.
Passengers hauled their belongings to decks below. Information spread concerning usage of buckets behind curtained facilities; cook stove locations; and distribution of morning rations. Believing everything well-organized, Rene slept through to dawn when chaos resumed.
Crews allocated supplies. Arguments erupted over wait-time for the facilities. Cries of hungry babies filled the confines of steerage where the majority of passengers were assigned.
Sissy escaped topside. Mattie invited Rene to chat on her bunk. Each called Saxony home. Both were unmarried with no likely prospects. Rene stroked a purple satchel, withdrawing her hand when Mattie claimed it contained sterling silver. When Sissy returned, Mattie grabbed the satchel and headed toward the facilities.
“Mattie looks flushed,” Sissy said. “Did you discuss marital status?”
“Only the lack of prospects.”
“She had a husband, once,” Sissy whispered. “Since things got nasty, she avoids mentioning him.”
Concerned, Rene asked if he was onboard.
“Nah, Mattie says he took a different ship entirely.”
Upon returning, Mattie suggested going topside. Rene eagerly agreed. Sissy napped instead.
Crowds on deck made it difficult to move. Rene located the cooking area and stopped to check the ovens. Mattie walked toward the ship’s railing.
Alerted to heightening turmoil, Rene soon followed, spotting the purple satchel as Mattie tumbled overboard. Above the hysteria, a melodious voice rose. Realizing the woman was lost to the sea, others joined in Sissy’s hymn. While the captain recited a prayer, the ship sailed on.
Days later, Rene asked Sissy about the silverware.
“Mattie had secrets,” Sissy admitted. “After her husband turned nasty again, she shot him and stuffed the body down an abandoned well.”
“Then he couldn’t have stolen her sterling silverware.”
“There was no silverware, only rusty nails Mattie picked off the barn floor for weapons against onboard attackers.”
Rene took to her bunk, heavy with exhaustion. She had suspected the reason Mattie sank so quickly. Now she understood why Mattie jumped.



  1. Well, that was disturbing. At least the bag contained no body parts.

  2. I used to work at sea a long time ago. The Ocean can be a fickle place. You never know what will happen. Interesting tale, I have to say doing a story for each letter of the entire alphabet is impressive and a lot of work.

    1. It is an excellent way to discover which genres are your favorite to write, Rob. Never thought Horror would make the list although Stephen King is still my favorite author.

  3. Hopefully it was quick for her. My grandparents came here by ship and I understand my mother's father made several crossings before he was finally able to bring his family with him. I could almost see them on this ship.

  4. Alana, this is part of a writing project focused on my ancestors. I like to encourage others to get their stories on paper before all is lost to the ages. Your story sounds like it has a fascinating hidden tale - or two.


Aloha and thank you for visiting today! All comments are welcome.
For those who prefer to comment via email: